Thursday, October 6, 2016
- Accelerated pay restoration and special measures to recruit and retain staff required
- Staff shortages violating Health and Safety legislation
The Executive Council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) held a special meeting, earlier this week, at which substantial time was spent considering the Lansdowne Road Agreement and the chronic shortage of nurses and midwives in the context of the improving economic situation.
Following a detailed analysis of the current situation, including feedback from members across the country, the Executive Council reaffirmed the following:
This situation is unsustainable, unacceptable and dangerous for our members and in contravention of the employers obligations under Health and Safety legislation.
In response to these critical, and connected, issues the INMO will, with immediate effect, adopt the following strategies:
In addition to this, and in recognition of the deepening crisis with regard to Nursing/ Midwifery shortages, the Organisation will also:
In relation to these matters the INMO will now commence a nationwide consultation with members to finalise the actions necessary to achieve these objectives.
This will be followed by a nationwide ballot seeking a mandate to commence action if bed numbers/services are not reduced in line with available staffing levels. Such action would include, as a first step, a ban on redeployment, cross cover in the community and overtime. The consistent, and growing, message from members is that they cannot cope, any longer, with reduced salaries, unpaid additional hours and unsafe staffing levels leading to intolerable workloads. These realities are further exacerbated by the constant refusal of management to respect, and accept, the professional judgement of Nurses/Midwives as to when patient care is compromised and/or unsafe.
These actions are also necessary in the context of the abject failure of management to implement numerous agreements, at both national and local level, to fill vacant posts and ensure staffing levels are appropriate in terms of bed numbers and service demands i.e. national ED Agreement and numerous local agreements - Limerick/ Cork/Drogheda/Care of the Elderly Services. ED overcrowding continues with management failing to recognise that the extra admitted patients require additional staff to care for them (7,551 admitted patients, in September this year – see full table)
Further proof of the growing crisis is the latest staff census figures, from the HSE, which confirms that, at the end of July, we have:
working in the frontline as compared to December 2015.
In terms of total staffing we continue to have almost 4,000 less Nursing and Midwifery posts, in the health service, than we had in 2008 (35,000 as compared to over 39,000). This confirms that all attempts at recruitment/retention, taken to date, have failed completely to address the hemorrhage of Nurses/Midwives, out of the system, and the damage done by the recruitment embargo of recent years. This reality explains why our members are now beyond breaking point as a result of the unsafe working environment they face every day.
Speaking this morning INMO President, Martina Harkin-Kelly, said:
“The Executive Council of this Organisation has heard the call from members, right across the country, that they have had enough and want the Organisation to initiate whatever strategies are necessary to secure accelerated pay restoration and greatly improved staffing levels.The intolerable stress levels, being encountered by our members, cannot be ignored any longer. The health and safety of our members is being compromised, on a daily basis, as a direct result of work related factors which are being ignored by health employers. We will not accept this any longer”.
INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran, said:
“The acceleration of pay restoration, in the context of an improving economy, is now an absolute priority for Nurses and Midwives and, we believe, all public servants working in the frontline who had their pay reduced by a minimum of 14%. The Minister for Finance, in the lead up to the General Election earlier this year, said that the emergency is over. The reality is the emergency may be over, as far as the government is concerned, but the emergency continues, every day, for Nurses and Midwives. Our members want a definite timeframe for the full restoration of pay cuts, imposed by government, and immediate action on special measures to recruit and retain Nurses/Midwives in sufficient numbers to meet ever growing service demand.The campaign, starting today, will continue until we have addressed these issues. The government must accept that Nurses/Midwives, and their fellow public servants, have endured more than enough and now expect early restoration of the pay, and other conditions, cut so severely between 2009 and 2013”.